Ask Advisor June 2016
It's no longer a matter of 'if' Congress will cut Social Security and Medicare, but "when" most policy observers now believe. Much will depend on Congressional budget negotiations in coming weeks as lawmakers address the extent to which borrowing can continue for payment of Social Security and Medicare benefits. .Why ban the use of earnings from unauthorized work to determine Social Security benefits? Under current law Social Security uses all earnings to calculate Social Security benefits. That means earnings of unauthorized immigrants from jobs worked under invalid and fraudulent Social Security numbers (SSN) can be used both to qualify for benefits and for the calculation of the initial retirement benefit. There is no official published data on the amount of wages on file attributable to aliens working without authorization, but the Social Security Administration maintains an earnings suspense file that represents an estimated 3.5 billion in wages from 2000 through 2010, most of it believed to be attributable to illegal workers. Under immigration reform, that could mean a huge new liability for Social Security in the future, triggering more rounds of cuts and higher taxes. .Sadly, Washington is feeding Americans misinformation about Medicare and how we are trying to save the program. No one in Washington wants to see our seniors suffer. But the truth is undeniable: If we don't address this now, together, Medicare really will end. If anyone else tells you differently they are not facing reality. We must take steps — even small steps — to address this. That's what this Resolution does: it forces us to consider two steps toward common ground. … Continued
Congressional Corner In Rural Communities Some Travel 100 Miles Or More To Closest Hospital
The President's order halts the collection of payroll taxes from Sept. 1 through the end of the year. In addition, he instructed the Treasury Department to look into how the government can forgive the deferred tax payment permanently because as things stand right now the taxes must be repaid after the first of the year. .Each year, due to a faulty formula that's used to determine Medicare's reimbursement rates, doctors are threatened with sizable pay cuts. This year, if Congress fails to act, doctors will face a 25 percent cut. Lawmakers consistently override scheduled pay cuts with temporary "fixes," but many doctors have grown tired of the ritual and have stopped treating Medicare patients. The estimated cost of repealing the formula has recently dropped dramatically, and many are hoping to replace it in the coming months. Doing so would provide much-needed stability for Medicare beneficiaries. .This week, the Senate Finance Committee met with a representative from the Obama administration to discuss alternatives to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) saw five key bills gain new cosponsors. … Continued
Changes in your earnings: Did you report increases in salary or commissions? You need to keep Social Security informed of higher earnings in order for your benefits to be accurately withheld. .CDC recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide. Since the virus spreads more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships, the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high. It is especially important that people who are not fully vaccinated with an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises. .Despite the big drop in costs related to petroleum prices, the overall costs typical of Social Security recipients continue to grow faster than benefits. Since 2000, the COLA has increased benefits just 43 percent while typical senior expenses have jumped 74 percent. Inflation has been at historic lows in recent years and seniors received a COLA of just 1.7 percent this year. .Sources: "Humana Inc. Overcharged Medicare Nearly 0 Million, Federal Audit Finds," Fred Schulte, NPR, April 20, 202"Insurers Running Medicare Advantage Plans Overbill Taxpayers By Billions As Feds Struggle to Stop It," Fred Schulte and Lauren Weber, Kaiser Health News, July 16, 201"Reducing Medicare Advantage Overpayments," Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, February, 23, 2021. .When my husband and I were planning the timing on our Social Security benefits, our financial advisor suggested that we could maximize our payout if I started with a spousal benefit based on my husband's account, while letting my own retirement benefit grow. I continued to work and started the spousal benefit at age 66, my full retirement age. Now I am 70, but have not received any notice from Social Security about my own retirement benefit. Does this mean I won't get anything higher than I already receive? .The Senior Citizens League enthusiastically supports S. 2554, H.R. 1251, and H.R. 4704, and we will continue to advocate for their passage in the months ahead. For more information, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website. .TSCL will be keeping a close eye on the budget discussions in the weeks ahead since a government shutdown could impact the Social Security and Medicare programs negatively. We will post updates here in the Legislative News section of our website, or over on our Facebook page. .TSCL is advocating for legislation that would provide a more fair and adequate COLA, by tying the annual adjustment to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI- E). Projections show that by using the CPI-E, Social Security benefits would be about 9 percent higher over 25 years. An average benefit of ,300 in 2017 would be about 2 per month more at the end of the 2year period using the CPI-E. .Second, four new cosponsors signed on to the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 141), bringing the total up to 16The new cosponsors are Representatives Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Bradley Byrne (AL-1), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-2), and Josh Harder (CA-10). This bipartisan bill, if adopted, would make the Social Security program more equitable by repealing the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). These two provisions of law unfairly cut the Social Security benefits of millions of teachers, police officers, and other state or local government employees, often by 40 percent or more. By repealing both provisions, the Social Security Fairness Act would ensure that public servants receive the Social Security benefits they have earned and deserve.